Pirlo says Juve ready to play Napoli but would respect any COVID delay

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Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo said his team are ready to play their Serie A match against Napoli on Wednesday but added that he would respect any COVID-19 postponement forced on them by the local health authority in Turin.

The Turin health authority said the match was not at risk despite recent COVID-19 cases at Juventus, with three players testing positive after returning from international duty.

Leonardo Bonucci, Merih Demiral and Federico Bernardeschi tested positive this week and will miss the rescheduled Napoli match, which was originally postponed in October.

“We respect the protocol as always but we respect what the (health authority) says and decides,” Pirlo told a news conference ahead of Wednesday’s match.

“We will do as we have always done and prepare in the best way possible to be ready to play the game.”

Napoli did not travel to Turin for the Juve game on Oct 4., saying their local health authority had told the players to stay home after two members of the squad tested positive for COVID-19.

Serie A turned down Napoli’s request to call the game off, however, resulting in bizarre scenes at the Allianz stadium as Juventus named their team and then waited until 45 minutes after the scheduled kickoff time before the game was officially abandoned.

The rearranged match is crucial for champions Juventus, who sit fourth in the Serie A standings, 12 points behind leaders Inter Milan, with their hopes fading fast of a 10th successive Scudetto.

Reports in various Italian newspapers suggest Pirlo, in his first season in charge at Juventus, could be sacked should his side lose to Napoli. But the rookie coach is determined to turn things around.

“I feel great confidence from the players,” Pirlo added. “They give me great confidence in what I want and what we are doing.

“The players follow me, they are the first to be sad about this situation we are in.

“It is normal that the results change the coach’s job, it’s up to me to prove that I can be next year’s coach.”

Pirlo also revealed that Argentinian striker Paulo Dybala is fit to face Napoli. The 27-year-old has not played for Juve since January.

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